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Ges. What then?
. They thank kind Providence it is not thou.
Thou hast perverted nature in them. The earth
Presents her fruits to them, and is not thanked.
The harvest sun is constant, and they scarce
Return his smile. Their flocks and herds increase,
And they look on as men who count a loss.
There's not a blessing Heaven vouchsafes them, but
The thought of thee doth wither to a curse,
As something they must lose, and had far better
Ges. 'Tis well. I'd have them as their hills
That never smile, though wanton summer tempt
Them e'er so much.
. But they do sometimes smile.
Ges. Ah! when is that?
Tell. When they do pray for vengeance.
Ges. Dare they pray for that?
Tell. They dare, and they expect it too.
Ges. From whence ?
Tell. From Heaven and their true hearts.
Ges. (To Sarnem.) Lead in his son.
Exquisite vengeance.' (To Tell as the boy enters.) I have
To die along with thee.
Tell. To die? for what? he's but a child.
Ges. He's thine, however.
Tell. He is an only child.
Ges. So much the easier to crush the race.
have a mother.
Ges. So the viper hath ;
And yet who spares it for the mother's sake ?
Teil. I talk to stone. I'll talk to it no more;
Come, my boy, I taught thee how to live,
I'll teach thee how to die.
Ges. But first I'd see thee make
A trial of thy skill, with that same bow.
Thy arrows never miss, 'tis said.
Tell. What is the trial?
Ges. Thou look'st upon thy boy, as though thou gress
Tell. Look upon my boy! What mean you?
Look upon my boy, as though I guessed it !
Guess the trial thoud'st have me make!
Guessed it instinctively! Thou dost not mean-
No, -Thou would'st not have me make
A trial of
skill upon my child! Impossible! I do not guess thy meaning.
Ġes. I'd see thee hit an apple on his head, Three hundred paces
off. Tell. Great Heaven!
Ges. On this condition only, will I spare His life and thine. Tell. Ferocious monster! make a father murder his own
Ges. Dost thou consent?
Tell. With his own hand!
The hand I've led him when an infant by!
My hands are free from blood, and have no gust
For it, that they should drink my
child's. I'll not murder my boy, for Gesler.
Boy. You will not hit me, father. You'll be sure
To hit the apple. Will you not save me, father?
Tell. Lead me forth-I'll make the trial.
Tell. Speak not to me;
Let me not hear thy voice. Thou must be dumb;
And so should all things be-Earth should be dumb
And Heaven, unless its thunder muttered at
The deed, and sent a bolt to stop it.
Give me my bow and quiver.
Ges. When all is ready, Sarnem, measure hence
The distance—three hundred paces.
Tell. · Will he do it fairly?
Ges. What is't to thee, fairly or not?
Tell. (Sarcastically.) O, nothing, a little thing,
A very little thing, I only shoot
At my child!
[Sarnem prepares to measure. Villain, stop! you measure against the sun.
Ges. And what of that?
What matter whether to or from the sun?
Tell. I'd have it at my back. The sun should shine
Upon the mark, and not on him that shoots;
I will not shoot against the sun.
Ges. Give him his way.
Tell. I should like to see the apple I must hit.
Ges. (Picks out the smallest one.) There, take that.
Tell. You've pick'd the smallest one.
Ges. I know I have. Thy skill will be
The greater if thou hittest it.
Tel. (Sarcastically.) True-true! I did not think of
I wonder I did not think of that. A larger one
Had given me a chance to save my boy.
Give me my bow. Let me see my quiver.
Ges. [To an attendant.] Give him a single arrow.
[Tell looks at the arrow and breaks it.]
Tell. Let me see my quiver.
It is not
One arrow in a dozen I would use
To shoot with at a dove, much less, a dove
Ges. Show him the quiver.
[Sarnem returns, and takes the apple and the boy to place them
While this is doing, Tell conceals an arrow under his garment.
He then selects another arrow.]
Tell. Is the boy ready? Keep silence now,
For Heaven's sake; and be my witnesses,
That if his life's in peril from my hand,
'Tis only for the chance of saving it.
For mercy's sake keep motionless and silent.
[He aims and shoots in the direction of the boy. In a moment Sarnem enters with the apple on the arrow's point.]
Sar. The boy is safe.
Tell. [Raising his arms.) Thank Heaven!
[As he raises his arms, the concealed arrow falls.] Ges. [Picking it up.] Unequalled archer! Why was this
concealed ? Tell. To kill thee, tyrant, had I slain my boy. Gesler, the Austrian governor, ordered homage to be paid to his hat. William Tell, of Switzerland, for refusing thus to degrade himself
, was compelled by the tyrant to shoot an arrow at an apple, placed on his own son's head, or else suffer, with his child, instant death. Fortunately, he hit the apple.
93. EXTRACT FROM DAMON AND PYTHJAS.-Shiel.
Damon, Lucullus, Procles, and Pythias,
Damon. Philistus, then, is president at last,
And Dionysius has o'erswayed it? Well,
It is what I expected :—there is now
No public virtue left in Syracuse.
What should be hoped from a degeneratc,
Corrupted, and voluptuous populace,
When highly-born and meanly-minded nobles
Would barter freedom for a great man's feast,
And sell their country for a smile? The stream,
With a more sure, eternal tendency,
Seeks not the ocean, than a sensual race
Their own devouring slavery. I am sick
At my inmost heart, of every thing I see
And hear!—Oh Syracuse, I am at last
Forced to despair of thee! And yet thou art
My land of birth, thou art my country still;
And like an unkind mother, thou hast left
The claims of holiest nature in my heart,
And I must sorrow for- -not hate thee!
[Shouts.] Ha What shouts are these? 'Tis from the citadel The uproar is descending,
Enter Lucullus Speak, Lucullus, what has befallen?
Lucullus. Have you heard the news?
Da. What news?
Luc. As through the streets I passed, the people
Said that the citadel was in the hands
Da. The citadel
In Dionysius' hands? What dost thou tell me?
How,--wherefore,—when? In Dionysius' hands i
The traitor Dionysius! Speak, Lucullus,
Luc. It was said, that by rude force,
Heading a troop of soldiers, he has taken
Possession of the citadel, and seized
The arms and treasure in't.
Da. I am thunder stricken! The citadel assaulted, and the armory In that fierce soldier's power! [Shouts.] Again! By all The gods on high Olympus, I behold His standard waving over it, and they come, His most notorious satellites, high heaped With arms and plunder! Parricidal slaves, What have ye done?
[Enter Procles and Soldiers.)
Soldiers. For Dionysius! Ho!
For Dionysius !
Da Silence !-Obstreperous traitors!
Your throats offend the quiet of the city;
And thou, who standest foremost of these knaves,
Stand back, and answer me,-a senator;
What have you done?
Proc. But that I know 'twill gall thee,
Thou poor and talking pedant of the school
Of dull Pythagoras, I'd let thee make
Conjecture from thy senses. But, in hope
'Twill stir your solemn anger, learn from me,
We have taken possession of the citadel,
Da. Patience, ye good gods! a moment's patience,
That these too ready hands may not enforce
The desperate precept of my rising heart-
Thou most contemptible and meanest tool
That ever tyrant used !
Proc. Do you hear him, soldiers ?
First, for thy coward railings at myself,
And since thou hast called our Dionysius tyrant,
Here, in the open streets of Syracuse,
I brand thee for a liar, and a traitor!
Da. Audacious slave!
Proc. Upon him, soldiers,
Hew him to pieces !
[Enter Pythias, as they rush on Damon.]
Pythias. Back, on your lives!
Cowards, treacherous cowards, back, I say!
Do you know me?